Gold medal shows Snaith is back on the right track with Graham

GOLDEN SMILE: Ben Snaith
GOLDEN SMILE: Ben Snaith
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Coach Mick Graham believes Ben Snaith’s gold medal-winning display at the weekend can act as the ‘springboard’ for the youngster to kick on with his athletics career, writes Liam Apicella.

Snaith, who trains with Graham at Newmarket Leisure Centre, was a member of the Great Britain squad that won the Men’s 4x400m relay at the European Under-23 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Sunday.

It highlighted just how far the 21-year-old has come since returning to Graham’s stable in the summer of 2015, having had a brief spell training at Loughborough.

Up in Leicestershire, Snaith went from a 20-second 200m runner to 22 seconds, while there was also a similar increase in his 400m times.

However, back under Graham’s tutelage, Snaith has put in the hard work, with his reward finally arriving in eastern Europe at the weekend.

“It has been a tough process, but we are getting there,” said Graham.

“I had to get Ben’s trust back and he needed to find some confidence. It was a mental thing; he felt rejected.

“We took a couple of steps back and got some solid training done.

“It has been a long journey and not always an easy one. The weather has been against him at a lot of local races and the tracks are slow, but he has accepted that.

“He needed the right track and he got that in Bydgoszcz.

“I am really pleased for him because he has had to make a lot of sacrifices. It could be the springboard for Ben.”

Snaith will spend the next week or two recovering from his recent exertions, before he and Graham look to reach the ‘next level’.

The Commonwealth Games take place in Australia next April, while the next Tokyo Olympics Games are three years away.

Plenty of work is needed before Snaith can contemplate donning a Team GB vest at either of those competitions, but Graham ruling is nothing out.

“We need to get Ben to the next level now. That means 45 seconds over 400m and then getting under that,” added Graham.

“We have the Commonwealth Games and then Tokyo — those are what every athlete wants to compete in.

“You have to make big sacrifices to get there. Do all athletes want to make those? Ben does.

“There is a lot of work to be done, both on the mind and physically. If we get it right, who knows what will happen.”

It proved to be a successful weekend for a number of Graham’s other athletes, with race walker George Wilkinson claiming bronze at a Schools’ International meeting in Dublin.

Wilkinson, who is the younger brother of British star Callum, clocked a new personal best over 3km of 15 minutes and 25.40 seconds.

Closer to home, Katie Margarson set a new personal best in the 400m at Cambridge’s East Anglia Senior Women’s League, while Maisey Snaith — Ben’s youngster sister — won the 100m and 200m races.